June 2017 Geelong Advertiser
THE soft tinkling laughter of baby Madeleine is new mum Holly Taylor’s favourite sound — one she is grateful to hear after her life was changed 30 years ago. As four-year-old Holly McDonell, she was the first child in the world to receive a commercial cochlear implant after clinical trials of the revolutionary device. She had been left profoundly deaf when she contracted bacterial meningitis.
After the pioneering five-hour surgery to put a bionic implant in her left ear, she has enjoyed a world of sound ever since. “I don’t dare even think about what it was like being deaf as a four-year-old,” corporate lawyer Mrs Taylor, 34, said from her northern beaches home. “The idea of not hearing terrifies me. “Right now, I’m celebrating everything I can hear, from listening to my favourite R & B music loudly in the car to my daughter giggling — it’s the happiest, most beautiful sound in the world. “The implant has allowed me to not live in a bubble of silence, to go to a normal primary school, a selective high school, communicate with my peers and not lead a restrictive social life.
“I was able to follow a career in law, through which I met my husband Jamie.”
She said the past five months since Madeleine was born have been “the most amazing”. “Listening to her every sound has brought the most enormous amount of joy to my life,” she said. “The implant, I’m realising more than ever, truly is a medical miracle.” Mrs Taylor still has the same implant that was inserted 50mm inside her skull on June 4, 1987. “When I turn it off, I hear absolutely nothing — not the sound of a pin drop. And there are times when I do turn if off, like when I want to read a book in silence or concentrate,” she said. “But when it’s on it must be good … I love listening to music so much — Ed Sheeran, John Legend — and the sounds are crystal clear.” With a chuckle, she adds: “I could turn it off when Madeleine cries too much, but of course I wouldn’t. “I’m just so happy to hear every sound she makes and watch her development. I’ve led a full and happy life because of what was considered pioneering surgery at the time. I would want the same for Madeleine.”